Updated Fri, Jan 17, 2014 3:36 pm
The Ohio Bobcats (12-4, 2-1) will travel to DeKalb, Illinois on Saturday to take on the Northern Illinois Huskies (7-8, 1-2) after defeating Ball State earlier this week.
Ohio was plagued by its first half struggles once again in its game against Ball State, as the ‘Cats only managed to score 27 points in the first half thanks to poor execution on the offensive end. The Bobcats threw sloppy passes straight out of bounds and forced shots in the first half.
The second half, however, was a different story for Ohio. The ‘Cats took much better care of the ball in the second half, which resulted in significantly better offensive execution. They also focused on getting the ball inside and attacking the rim. Maurice Ndour came out hot in the second half and scored 12 of his team high 16 points after halftime.
Ohio was able to fight through its offensive struggles and continue to compete in the second half. Even after the game was wrapped up, Ohio was still pushing the ball and attacking the Cardinals’ defense.
Another encouraging sight for the Bobcats was the play of their bench against Ball State. Travis Wilkins came off the bench to give Ohio 10 points, and Treg Setty’s hustle and energy gave the Bobcats a lift, as he dove on the floor for loose balls and fought for nearly every rebound. Setty finished the game with 4 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals.
Javarez “Bean” Willis is usually a good barometer for the team, as Ohio is undefeated when he scores more than six points. Ohio was glad to see Willis pitch in 8 points against the Cardinals.
Ohio’s next opponent, Northern Illinois, comes into this game with a 7-8 record after losing its last game to Kent State 73-64 in overtime. The loss against Kent State marked another game that the Huskies failed to score at least 70 points. Northern Illinois has hit the 70 point mark only twice this season, which were both wins.
Much like Ball State, Northern Illinois’s inability to score plays into Ohio’s hand, which prides itself on its defense. The Huskies only average about eight assists per game compared to 14 turnovers a game. The Bobcats’ offense starts on the defensive end, and forcing turnovers allows Ohio to get out and run and spread their opponents out. Given Northern Illinois’ tendency to turn the ball over, Ohio will have an opportunity to do that against the Huskies.
Northern Illinois will be without its leading scorer, as Dontel Highsmith suffered a season ending ACL injury against Iowa State. The Huskies second leading scorer is Darrell Bowie, who averages 9.5 points per game. He is not particularly efficient, though, as he only shoots 36.5 percent from the field.
Tip-off for Ohio’s matchup with Northern Illinois is set for Saturday night at 8 p.m.